By Peter La Franchi in London

Galileo Avionica and Robonic are to co-operatively develop a catapult launch capability for the Italian company’s Falco advanced tactical unmanned air vehicle, with a demonstration likely by mid-2007.

The two firms signed a memorandum of understanding on 2 August guiding the development effort based on use of the Robonic MC2555LLR rail launcher.

The phased development effort will start with design of a cradle adapter for Falco, followed by test launches of a representative mass to assist in prediction of air vehicle loadings and development of any necessary structural modifications for the UAV.

Galileo plan to offer the catapult launch option as part of efforts to have a maritime surveillance version of Falco market ready within two years. The company is targeting the Italian navy’s planned next-generation aircraft carrier programme as a near-term market opportunity.

Galileo Avionica managing director Renzo Meschini says: “We are currently working to complete the Falco capabilities. The Robonic pneumatic catapult launcher will allow our Falco to operate also from naval platforms for maritime operations.”

Catapult launch may also be offered for potential land-based military applications.

Design work on the catapult adapter is starting now and dummy mass launches are expected to be complete by January, says Juha Moisio, managing director of Robonic. Those dummy launches will be instrumented to provide a database to guide design modification studies for the Falco.

“There are some design-related aspects that have to be clarified,” says Moisio.

The MC2555LLR is the same launcher used by Sagem in June to demonstrate zero length take-off of its Sperwer B UAV. The launcher has also been studied by BAE Systems as the basis for a catapult-launched version of its Herti UAV system.

Source: Flight International